Infinite Jest

The Illusory Benefits of Success in 'Infinite Jest' 11th Grade

While all people want happiness in life, most struggle to achieve this goal as a result of various distractions and other factors at play. In Infinite Jest, a maximalist novel by David Foster Wallace, the distraction inhibiting individuals from happiness is success, or the allusion of it. Wallace presents contrasting forms of success, from athletic achievements, to producing entertainment, and even success in fighting against addiction. The issue is that these successes, for the most part, are temporary, self-imagined triumphs. In the novel, lasting happiness seems to be nearly impossible to procure, as humans inherently believe that happiness comes from being superior to others. Wallace argues that while all individuals strive for happiness in life through success, the only way to achieve it without allowing it to become destructive is by neglecting its existence.

In order to understand Wallace’s depiction of human nature, it is necessary to provide a working definition of success. Success is the accomplishment of a goal set by an individual. These “goals, objectives, and trajectories based on what we desire” (Jasin) are what decide, societally speaking, how successful an individual is. Because the individual determines what...

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